The Henry and Stark County Health Department along with First Choice Healthcare and its Behavioral Health Staff would like to address what many refer to as the “Winter Blues.” The winter blues are very common, with many of us experiencing a mood shift during the colder, darker days of winter. You may find yourself feeling more lethargic and down overall. Although you may feel more unhappy than usual, the winter blues typically do not affect your ability to enjoy life.
But if your winter blues start permeating all aspects of your life — from work to personal relationships — you may be experiencing seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD is a subtype of major depression that is characterized by the onset of depression during winter months when there is less natural light. For many people, symptoms usually start in the fall and continue into the winter months.
Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder may include:
• Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
• Feeling hopeless or worthless
• Having low energy
• Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
• Problems sleeping
• Changes in your appetite or weight
• Feeling sluggish or agitated
• Having difficulty concentrating
• Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide
How Do You Treat SAD? Treatment for SAD may include light therapy (phototherapy), psychotherapy and medication. In addition to your prescribed treatment plan for SAD, you may also try:
• Making your environment sunnier and brighter
• Spending more time outside
• Exercising regularly
In addition to SAD, some people with major depression, unrelated to the season, may experience an increase in symptoms during the late fall and winter; it is important that they discuss this with a behavioral/mental health professional. The most important take-home message is that SAD, just like other types of depression, is treatable and people should not suffer in silence; they should seek help
And remember, Behavioral and Mental Health Services are now available at First Choice Health Care. We are now accepting appointments in our Kewanee location! Our behavioral health staff are prepared to support patients aged five and over. For such issues as depression, anxiety, stress, substance use and addictions, behavior problems, bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, family/parenting issues, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia and other related disorders, sexual assault, suicide prevention, trauma, and loss.
Help and understanding are just a phone call away all the Health Department’s First Choice Healthcare 309-852-5272!